Monday, 13 October 2008

October 13th: Hotel Chocolat Organic Dark 72% Chilli & Pink Peppercorns


Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???

After last weeks small excursion into Hotel Chocolat's Halloween offerings, I this week returned to 'The Purist' range sampling the Hotel Chocolat Organic Dark 72% Chilli & Pink Peppercorns bar. I had tried a few products before containing chilli, though the whole concept of peppercorns was entirely new to me. Similar to the 100% organic cocoa offering of two weeks ago, this bar was comprised of cocoa from the Hacienda Lara Plantation, Ecuador. The added pink peppercorns were from nearby Peru and the piri-piri chilli from Madagascar ... the ingredients were certainly well travelled.

The outer packaging was as ever fantastic - no need to go into details here, it has all been said before. I must admit I was shocked at the presentation of the chocolate when I opened the inner foil wrapper - the bar had a highly decorative look with fluorescent pink peppercorns jutting every which way out of the surface. It gave the slab an interesting look ... certainly a unique one anyway. The appearance of the bar was not the only thing that struck me upon opening the inner wrapping. The smell was also very distinct, and far less indicative of cocoa than most standard Hotel Chocolat products, it offered a rather mysterious spiced aroma that I wasn't all that sure of ... it was rather like the smell of an incense candle.

From the very first piece I placed in my mouth it was obvious this was not your typical Hotel Chocolat offering. From what I could tell the chocolate still tasted as great as ever. The 72% had a delightful smooth, rich cocoa taste that is every bit as good as anything else out there on the market. Unfortunately the chocolate took a major backseat in this offering ... and I mean major backseat. The spice elements of the bar were massively overpowering. The warmth of the chilli was relatively pleasant, though by my reckoning the pink peppercorns just simply didn't work on any level. They were harsh and bitter in their taste, not only dominating the taste when the chocolate was in the mouth, but also leaving a longing pretty horrible bitter flavour in the mouth for a long time after. The peppercorns did have an element of fruitiness about them, though the flavour just seemed largely out of context and completely lost on me. I did try eating the majority of this bar, though I simply couldn't ... when offered to my housemates they each took a small portion and quickly told me how awful my taste in chocolate was ... oh if only they knew :)

Overall as you all know I'm a huge, huge fan of Hotel Chocolat - but today for the first time it feels like they really failed me. This is only my personal opinion - and others may feel differently, but for me the inclusion of the pink peppercorns entirely spoilt the whole product. As I previously stated this was the first time I had tasted a bar with peppercorns in, and thinking about it now I really hope it is the last. They added a dominating horrible, spiky, bitter element to the overall taste ... sure they looked nice and pretty but to be honest I would far rather of them not been included, simply leaving a chilli enhanced 72% dark chocolate, like the one I tried a few months ago ... and upon reflection much preferred. My own personal recommendation would be to stay well clear of this variant, though if you fancy a flirt with the spicy side by all means go for it ... not to my liking whatsoever.

6.4 out of 10

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